Kinkoi: Golden Loveriche is a romance visual novel for lovers of blondes. Originally released by Saga Planets in 2017, it proved very popular with Japanese fans, winning several awards that year. The English demo, available on Steam and Denpasoft, covers the first five hours of the game and introduces the cast of beautiful blonde love interests. (Plus a few other options if you, like the protagonist, are more into long, black hair.)
Kinkoi: Golden Loveriche begins with a comedic misunderstanding: the protagonist, Ouro, sees a girl, Sylvie, running away from her pursuers and helps her escape. As it turns out, she was actually a princess trying to evade her guards, and Ouro is accused of kidnapping her. To avoid a scandal, Ouro is forced to enroll in Sylvie’s boarding school, Noble Academy. (Just go with it.)
The central conflict is Ouro’s “fish out of water” status, as he’s snubbed by his upper-class classmates and treated with suspicion by the students in his otherwise all-girls dorm. But since he’s already friends with Sylvie, who’s admired by everyone in the school, the situation feels more slightly awkward than a major source of tension. Of course, that’s not a bad thing if you like slice-of-life stories with a bit of comedy but not much forward-driving plot.
Ouro quickly makes other friends, including Sylvie’s bodyguard, Elle; casual, fashion-loving Reina; and moody, cigarette-smoking Ria. There are “dates” with some of the love interests, but there’s not a lot of romantic undertones in the demo overall. It’s more about hanging out and chilling with a group of friends, and it’s very laid-back and relaxing.
The translation reads smoothly, with just a few minor typos that I’m sure will get fixed for the full release. There are plenty of adjustable settings for volume and text display, but the textbox is nearly transparent even on the highest setting. Combined with the fact that the font size decreases for longer lines so that everything can fit, the text can occasionally be hard to make out.
The artwork and character design are beautiful, with multiple costumes and poses and dynamic art direction. The CGs in the demo are mostly cute chibi scenes that show the protagonist’s face, which is a nice touch. (He still has no sprite or voice, of course, although the rest of the characters are fully voiced in Japanese.)
In terms of story and characters, though, nothing about Kinkoi really stands out from similar visual novels about private school life with cute girls. The first time anything surprised me was the very end of the demo when the mystery surrounding Ouro’s vague childhood memories of Sylvie creep up. This is inherently already an overused trope, but it’s there wrapped up in an unexpected and satisfying way that I actually enjoyed. I’ve heard that there’s also an interesting plot twist in the true route, so I’m looking forward to reading it.
The English version of Kinkoi: Golden Loveriche is scheduled to release in May. The Kickstarter for physical merchandise, with stretch goals for a Switch release and a fandisk translation, ends on March 28th.
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